A's bats stay alert in easy win over Rays
The Oakland Athletics are starting to show signs of breaking out of their offensive slump after scuffling for the first three weeks of the season.
Kurt Suzuki drove in three runs, Dana Eveland pitched into the sixth inning and every Oakland starter got at least one hit in the A's 7-1 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"This is so early right now, a lot of things can happen," said Orlando Cabrera, who had two hits and an RBI after being mired in a 3-for-37 streak. "It's like playing poker. Fortunes can change so quickly, you know? The most important thing for us is just to keep it together and win ballgames."
Oakland had 10 hits, one fewer than it had in its previous two games combined, and seven different players scored. The A's won their second straight after a season-high five-game skid.
It was an encouraging game for a team that entered last in the American League in numerous offensive categories, including scoring, home runs, RBIs and batting average. Oakland's offense still hasn't opened up like management had hoped when it acquired veteran sluggers Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday and Nomar Garciaparra but the back-to-back wins over Tampa Bay could be a signal of change.
"We have a lot of quality hitters with proven track records and they're going to hit," manager Bob Geren said. "The last couple of (games) we strung some hits together. Top to bottom, they're showing improvement."
Suzuki played a significant role in Oakland's two big innings against the Rays, hitting a two-run double in the second and drawing a bases-loaded walk off Andy Sonnanstine in the fifth to force in another run.
That was enough for Eveland (1-1) to earn his first win of the season. Eveland and Dallas Braden, who beat the Rays on Saturday, are the only Oakland starters to win games this season.
Eveland tinkered with his mechanics and tried to speed up his tempo after failing to make it out of the fourth inning in each of his previous two starts.
"It's something I've done in the past and I know I'm at my best when I do it," said the left-hander, who allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. "It's just tough when you're struggling. The one thing that was different from my other outings is when I did miss I missed more off the plate rather than throwing the ball over the middle."
Michael Wuertz, Santiago Casilla and Russ Springer combined to finish the four-hitter for Oakland, which won a home series against Tampa Bay for the first time since August 2006.
The A's scored four in the second then batted around during their three-run fifth.
All of the damage came against Sonnanstine (0-3), who has gone 11 consecutive regular-season starts without a win. The right-hander gave up a career-high 10 hits and pitched with runners on base in every inning except the first.
"He did not have one of his better days, they hit him pretty hard," manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay scored its lone run in the second on a squeeze bunt by Dioner Navarro.
The Rays have lost nine of 12 and have scored two runs or less in seven of those losses.
Suzuki is batting .529 (9-for-17) over his last five games. ... Tampa Bay has not won a series since taking two of three from Boston to open the season. ... Rays CF B.J. Upton is hitless in his last 16 at-bats.